A teacher-turned-FT-mother ponders the lessons her daughters are gaining simply by living here.
(all images: Becky Magnuson)
The suitcases are packed, and we head out the door on our next family adventure. In the cab to the airport, my daughters begin spewing a series of questions: “How many airplanes are we taking to get there?” “Are we taking cabs, tuk-tuks or the train when we arrive?” “What language do they speak there?” “What type of money do they use?”
The mini-expats, as I affectionately call them, have been adapting at an exponential rate in the year we’ve lived in Singapore. I look at them, as if seeing them for the first time in all their 7-year-old glory, and realise my sweet and sassy little ladies are growing up.
Prior to moving here, I worked as an elementary school teacher and administrator in America. Leaving my job – something I was truly passionate about – caused me to shift from being responsible for an entire school of children to focusing on only my kids. I overanalysed how this experience would impact my twin girls developmentally and academically, and struggled with not being in control of their curriculum. However, I was committed to keeping an open mind.
Raising my children to have a global perspective has always been important to me. My daughters were born in Ethiopia, and my husband and I worked hard to help them develop an understanding of their home country, while living in the United States.
Fast forward six years, and my mini-expats are now living on continent number three and attending an incredible school. Its beautiful campus is filled with students from all over the world, and the school’s curriculum challenges kids to be independent thinkers. But, as a momma-educator, what excites me more is the learning that is taking place outside of the classroom.
Before I knew it, the evidence of my girls’ global education exploded before my eyes. At first, it was conversations during dinner about the home countries of their classmates – the different languages they spoke, foods they ate and holidays they celebrated.
But, this was just the beginning. Soon, they began to understand how daytime here in Singapore meant it was night-time back in Minnesota, and how communicating with family requires a strategically planned effort to hit the coveted window of talk time.
Through living in Singapore and our exploration of Southeast Asia, we have discovered the interdependence of groups of people, seen evidence of social inequities within cultures, examined how ancient civilizations shaped lives today and witnessed, first hand, why human choices have significant impact on the earth’s natural resources.
Turns out, I didn’t completely mess up my children by moving them across the world (twice). My mini-expats now see it as a complex system with many similarities and differences. This global education is teaching us all, by fostering attitudes of curiosity, tolerance and respect – and will continue to make us even better humans than when we arrived.
By Becky Magnuson, The Finder Kids (Vol. 22), March 2018
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